Safety Agency Taking Another Look at Laura Gainey Death

laura-gainey-thumb.jpg Yesterday Michael Tutton of The Canadian Press reported that the Transportation Safety Board of Canada has reversed their earlier position and have decided to investigate the circumstances that lead to Laura Gainey being washed off the tall ship Picton Castle nearly a year ago. (The Daily Gleaner).

I previously wrote about this here and here.

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Tough CEO’s Often Most Successful

According to George Anders’ Theory & Practice column in yesterday’s (November 19, 2007) Wall Street Journal, “a new study suggests that hard-nosed personal virtues such as persistence and efficiency count for more than “softer” strengths like teamwork or flexibility when it comes to assessing the traits of chief executives of successful companies.”

The study was done by three University of Chicago Business School Professors (Steven Kaplan, Mark Klebanov and Morten Sorensen) in collaboration with ghSmart, a consultancy that assesses CEO candidates on behalf of corporate clients.

Officials at ghSmart let the academics see the results of its four-hour assessment interviews, in which candidates are quizzed about their careers in detail. The consulting firm then takes apart those narratives, looking for glimpses of the candidate’s leadership style in areas ranging from interpersonal skills to intellect and motivation. Ultimately, candidates are scored on dozens of traits ranging from enthusiasm to their willingness to oust underperformers.

The method runs a risk of candidates tailoring their responses to what they think are the “right” answers. But Geoffrey Smart, chairman and CEO of ghSmart, thinks the risk is small because independent reference checks make sure the CEOs’ accounts hold true.

According to the University of Chicago researchers, here are five traits that matter:

  • Persistence
  • Attention to detail
  • Efficiency
  • Analytical skills
  • Setting high standards

and surprisingly, to me at least, are five traits that are less important:

  • Strong oral communication
  • Teamwork
  • Flexibility/adaptability
  • Enthusiasm
  • Listening skills

gh Smart’s report: Management Assessment Methods in Venture Capital: Toward a Theory of Human Capital Valuation (Executive Summary) (Full Report)

Wonder if ghSmart ever had the opportunity to interview C. Montgomery Burns? What an unfortunate similarity in above poses! ;-)

Cross posted in Center for Leader Development and Sea-Fever blogs.

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Jason Lewis’ Human Powered Solo Circumnavigation

WorldMapWithAntipodes_copy4 On October 6, 2007, adventurer Jason Lewis returned to Greenwich, England, a city that he had left 13 years and 45,000 miles earlier, to become the first human powered solo circumnavigator of planet Earth. According to Wikipedia, Lewis:

  • crossed the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in a wooden pedal boat;
  • roller bladed across North America;
  • kayaked from Australia to Singapore;
  • biked from Singapore to the Himalayas;
  • hiked through the Himalayas and
  • pedaloed from Mumbai, India crossing the Indian Ocean to Djibouti.

Originally plans called a trip of 3.5 years; however, Lewis encountered a number of unanticipated challenges along the way including being struck by a car in Colorado inflicting two broken legs and 9 months of recovery, a crocodile attack and worst of all, a battle with self in suffering through a period of depression.

Lewis’ incredible journey was chronicled on the Expedition 360 website where there are some great resources for teachers and parents as well. Here’s a cool video from

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The 3 Dimensions of Cruise Ship Design

No higher than Verazanno Narrows Bridge in New York, no longer than the turning area in South Hampton, England and no wider than the Panama Canal. Those are the three key dimensions for any luxury cruise ship planning to circumnavigate the globe.

However, according to this National Geographic clip with Micky Arison, Chairman of Carnival Cruise Lines, they decided to break one of the rules to provide the luxury that passengers today expect. Watch to find out which rule and why!

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A Shellfish Way of Life

NYT Beckoned by Bivalves Chris Ramirez

The New York Times website has a beautiful multimedia presentation entitled Digging for Dinner on Prince Edward Island narrated by Frank Bruni, Times restaurant critic. It goes along with a Bruni article in the Food Issue column of the Travel section entitled Beckoned by Bivalves. Check it out.

(Photo credit: Chris Ramirez for the NY Times) 

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What kind of leader are you?

Here’s a fun diversion for a Friday.

Follow this link and take the Famous Leader Test. There are 9, 18, 27 and 45 question versions. According to the website:

The more questions you select, the more accurate the results but keep in mind this test is not as serious and laboriously tuned as the tests on the main test page. This is more of an amusing personality test.

Here’s what I learned about my leadership after answering 45 questions:

What Famous Leader Are You?
personality tests by

Take the test and report back. Good luck!

Cross posted: Sea-Fever and Center for Leader Development blogs.

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208 days at sea, only 792 more to go!

1000 days at sea logo

On November 8th Reid Stowe and Soanya Ahmad reported on their 200th consecutive at sea on the schooner Anne. I originally posted about this expedition here.

According to the 1000 Day at Sea blog, they are claiming that they have surpassed these previous at sea duration records:

  1. Longest man and woman non-stop sea voyage.
  2. Longest time for a female out at sea non-stop.
  3. Longest time out of sight of land.
  4. Longest space analogous expedition on earth.

Regardless of the records, 200 days at sea is a pretty significant accomplishment. Here’s a link to their post marking this milestone.

While they started this journey with a reported bang, every day does not hold adventure or excitement as demonstrated in this post where Soanya talks about how to pack for 1000 days and how to avoid moldy cloths at sea.

In the end, sometime it can be fascinating so I check in periodically to see how these modern day “adventurers” are “surviving” on the high seas. 1/5th of the way through the voyage, I look forward to what the final 792 days hold.

For a different perspective on the 1000 Days at Sea, check out 1000 Days of Hell which is part parody, part expose. (Warning: 1000 Days of Hell is R rated – not family or work friendly) Not sure what to make of it but it’s entertaining.

It’s what makes the Internet interesting!

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"A leader is a dealer in hope"

Napoleon Crossing the Alps by Jacques-Louis David via Wikipedia

Recognized as one of world history’s most widely known leaders, Napoleon Bonaparte captures the essence of leadership in this quote.

All things Napoleon:

(Painting – Napoleon Crossing the Alps by Jacques-Louis David (1801) Musée national du château de Malmaison)

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Rocking the Boat changes kids lives

I was recently “tagged” by my leadership blogger friend Ed Brenegar of Leading Questions to participate in Alex Shalman’s Compassion, Caring, Charity project. This is the first time that I’ve been “tagged” like this so here goes…

Last week was a very busy one for me with several of my nonprofit interests.

SEA logo On Sunday and Monday, I traveled to Woods Hole, MA to participate in SEA Education Association’s semi-annual Trustee and Overseer’s meetings. This amazing organization sends young college students to sea on two tall ships, Corwith Cramer and Robert C. Seamans, for a fully accredited semester long programs. They also have summer high school programs and an occasional adult experience like the upcoming SEA Expedition program sailing throughout French Polynesia over 7 days in January 2008 (There’s still time to sign up! )

On Wednesday evening I had a Mattapoisett Community Sailing Association (MattSail) board meeting where I am pleased to serve as a pro-bono consultant to this community based nonprofit that teaches young people how to sail and more. From concept in January 2007 to running a pilot program teaching 12 kids to sail in July 2007 to having a Summer Gala in August 2007, MattSail is in the enviable position of having nearly 2 years of operating budget in the “hold” and a very promising future on the horizon! It been exciting to be part of this nonprofit startup.

Tabor Boy via Tabor Academy website Finally on Friday, I participated in a day long meeting at my high school alma mater, Tabor Academy, where I have served on the Headmaster’s Council for the past few years. Tabor, also commonly known as “The School by the Sea”, is where I began my sail training experience on the schooner Tabor Boy, an experience that taught me more about leadership (and life) than nearly any since. Earlier this year I launched The Tabor Boy Project which is a social media living history project and online community focused on Tabor Boy’s 50 plus years of changing young lives at sea under sail.

The above three organizations are all amazing and I devote lots of time, energy, thought and resources to each of them. However, in thinking about the Compassion, Caring, Charity project I kept gravitating to another incredible organization, Rocking the Boat in the Bronx, NY.

Rocking the Boat logoI first came across Rocking the Boat when I was executive director of the American Sail Training Association. In 2003, Adam Green, founder and executive director, attended the 30th annual ASTA conference in Providence, RI along with several of the program’s young boatbuilders. They set up one of their beautiful boats in the hotel lobby for all of the conferees and hotel guests to marvel over.

From the Rocking the Boat website:

Rocking the Boat is a boatbuilding and on-water education program based out of the southwest Bronx, New York City. Through a hands-on alternative approach to education and youth development, Rocking the Boat addresses the need for inner city youth to achieve practical and tangible goals, relevant to both everyday life and future aspirations. This process allows high school students to acquire practical, academic, and social skills. Rocking the Boat runs programming in both boatbuilding and environmental science, coordinating three after school and summer programs in each discipline annually, working directly with over 150 students, all of whom receive high school credit. During the process of building a traditional wooden boat, Rocking the Boat students create something not only beautiful, but practical in their own lives, bridging urban and natural life within their neighborhoods. This approach is mirrored in the on-water education program through direct focus on Bronx River habitat monitoring and restoration and through maritime life skills programming. Both programs allow students opportunities to gain a deeper awareness of their own abilities and possibilities in the natural and urban world.

This short video does a great job of capturing the essence of this powerful program. PLEASE watch it!

The Rocking the Boat website has lots of great photos and other interesting information about how they employ an effective peer leadership model to bring the art and craft of boatbuilding to under-served, at-risk youth in the Bronx, NY and change lives in the process.

In the September 10, 2007 issue of Time Magazine, Rocking the Boat and Adam Green were recognized in an article entitled The Activists as part of the cover story The Case for National Service. (Green was a 1998 Echoing Green Foundation Fellow.)

Rocking the Boat timemagazine9-10-07

On this Thursday (November 15, 2007), Rocking the Boat will be hosting their Whitehaul Award Fundraiser where they will be recognizing Edmund A. Stanley, Jr. and Jennifer Stanley Founder and President of The Robert Bowne Foundation. From Rocking the Boat’s website:

“In creating The Whitehall Award, Rocking the Boat is proud to recognize leaders in the fields of experiential education, environmental activism, and youth development. The honor is named for the distinctively elegant and practical wooden boat design that forms the majority of Rocking the Boat’s hand-built fleet. The Whitehall represents a “golden period” of maritime design and craftsmanship, its reliable and beautiful form remaining largely consistent since 1690.”

The event will be at the South Street Seaport Museum in New York City and I believe that there are tickets still available. So, if you are in the New York area and are interested in helping young people “find a star to steer by,” please considering going and supporting this worthy cause!

Part of the Caring Compassion Charity project involves “tagging” others, so these people need to look out because they are “it”:

  • Will Van Dorp writes my favorite maritime culture blog called tugster: a water blog about “New York harbor, the sixth borough.”
  • John Konrad is a master mariner, webMaster and CEO of, a single stop for all things maritime. He writes a great blog and created a cool Digg-like maritime news website called Discoverer where you can always find something interesting!
  • Scott Allen, PhD is the founder of the Center for Leader Development where he also heads up a team of leadership bloggers of which I’m proud to be included. I met Scott earlier this year as a co-participant in Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s program, The Art and Practice of Leadership Development.
  • Laura Athavale Fitton of Pistachio Consulting writes a must read business blog called Great Presentations Mean Business. A sailor in a past life, Laura is also doing some interesting things on Twitter, the micro-blogging platform. Anyone interested in how business and personal communication technologies are rapidly evolving should follow her here.

Thanks again to Ed Brenegar of Leading Questions for tagging me and giving me the opportunity to introduce a few more people to Rocking the Boat.

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"I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky, And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by"

The above quote is from John Masefield’s classic poem Sea-Fever which is the inspiration for the name of our firm, Sea-Fever Consulting LLC.

I believe that the sea is a strong and effective metaphor for business. Both present an ever changing environment and those that don’t adjust can find themselves far off course or worse.

Several times a week I will post leadership quotes that I find inspirational; many, but not all, will involve the sea. I hope that they help you think about your leadership in your life and work. I welcome you aboard and invite you into a leadership conversation to share any thoughts that you have about these Leading Words.

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